By Jake Bilyeu, Guest Writer
Are you ready for some Pacific Lutheran University Basketball? Well, you better be.
The 2014-2015 Northwest Conference season opens with back to back games this today, Friday, Nov. 21 and tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 22 in the Doug McArthur Classic, held at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma.
To help get you ready for the season, we have to go over what happened last year, and all that has changed since then.
Last year, the Lutes’ basketball team finished 8-17 in the win-loss category, going 5-11 in conference games.
One of the leaders on the team, Arvid Isaksen, was playing in his senior year.
So, this year, replacing him is high on the priority list.
PLU head coach Steve Dickerson is entering his ninth season in charge of the Lutes, and will look first-and-foremost to improve on last seasons seventh place NWC finish.
The teams highest finish under Dickerson was in 2011-2012, when the Lutes finished fourth.
In a sit down I had with coach Dickerson, he revisited last season, recalling that Isaksen had been their leader from sheer hard work and motivation for his teammates.
Replacing that will be tough, but the Lutes are bringing back a few stars from last year’s squad.
Terrell Williams, one of this year’s returning seniors, will look to finish strong this year in a full time starting role, after spending some of last year and previous years as the team’s 6th man.
Other returners include two All League Honorable Mention award winners and sophomores, Bryce Miller, a stat-sheet filler at the post position, and Brandon Lester, the team’s leading scorer from last year.
In that same sit down with Coach Dickerson, he noted that the Lutes basketball team had built up a tradition of bringing toughness to the court, but that they had let that toughness slip in the past couple years.
The new recruits coming in this year will also look to bring back that toughness.
They are making good progress on that goal so far.
In the Lutes’ preseason exhibition game, first-years Dylan Foreman and Zach Wallin were among the leaders in scoring.
Another problem that the Lutes had last season was finishing games.
The Lutes lost many of their games last year after falling apart in the final minutes.
Coach Dickerson aims to prevent that at all costs this year, but he may have a tough time accomplishing that goal this year.
He believes that the shooting this year could be off the charts, but that the team may also struggle with rebounding this season.
And, since basketball games are generally won and lost by rebounding late in games, the Lutes are hoping to bring that toughness back in full force this year.
Among all of these things to expect, we should all expect an exciting season of PLU basketball.